GRANT'S LICK ELEMENTARY - HERE'S THE SCOOP!
I’ve been meaning to write about Grant’s Lick for some time but have been recently caught up in work related to the Silver Grove merger…. and enjoying a little basketball and academic team mania!
So, as many of you may have heard, the Campbell County Board of Education took action in February to approve a purchase contract for approximately 80 acres of land from Plum Creek Church for the future construction of a new Grant’s Lick Elementary. Yes, it’s true! We are planning for the replacement of Grant’s Lick. And no, we didn’t use money from the general fund or dollars for instruction, to pay for the property. We are only using funds that are restricted for building repair or capital improvement and a small amount of invested funds which had been previously set aside.
Why Now?? For years Grant’s Lick was not eligible for replacement because it was too small and enrollment wasn’t increasing. Finally, a synergy is occurring. The student enrollment at Grant’s Lick has increased from 280, three years ago, to 340 students currently. It is finally growing and teachers will tell you that it is beginning to get a little tight as there are no more spare classrooms. The second piece of the synergy comes from the recent evaluation of Grant’s Lick through the Kentucky Facility Inventory Classification System (KFICS), which placed it in the top five for needed replacement of all schools in the Commonwealth. Additionally, this ranking may also make us eligible for state money from the legislature to assist with the replacement, much like what happened in Fort Thomas for Johnson Elementary.
In speaking with local legislators, who helped bring state dollars to Fort Thomas for the renovation of Johnson, we were told that we needed three things to be eligible for state dollars. First, we must have a building that ranks near the top of the state in need of replacement or renovation. Second, we must have a shovel-ready project, with all the pre-planning and architecture done. And finally, we must be able to bond for or pay for at least half of the projected cost – with the state picking up the other half. We are working hard to have all three pre-requisites checked off the list before the next legislative budget session, which occurs in the winter of 2020. When the time comes, we may need your assistance to contact our legislators to advocate for Grant’s Lick. I provided a tour of the school for Rep. Joe Fischer last spring and he agrees that we need a new building.
The purchase of land from Plum Creek was paramount as the current Grant’s Lick school sits on about six acres, which if far too small for a current elementary school, especially one that may need room to grow in the near future. Our district facility planning committee had recommended, back in the spring of 2017, the acquisition of land for this purpose. We had been looking for the right parcel for nearly a year when this opportunity presented itself. The site, on US 27 between Nagel Road and Marl-Rich Lane, is a great one for a school, with a large, relatively flat footprint and straight line of site on the road approaches from north and south. Plum Creek Church will be a great neighbor and partner and we look forward to being next door.
What’s the timeline?? Well, if we are able to convince the legislature to split the cost of a new building, we will be ready to bond our half and break ground around the summer/fall of 2020. If we don’t get state assistance, then it will take a few more years to acquire the full bonding potential, necessary to complete the project on our own. We really want to secure the state’s support as we need to pivot next to work on a solution for the middle school . Originally, the middle school was prioritized as a greater need on our plan due to its size and continued growth, but it is not be eligible for state subsidy. We have to complete Grant’s Lick first to save half of the cost to our local taxpayers.
Some have asked about what will happen with the old Grant’s Lick property once a new school is built. This is an unanswered question at this time. We don’t anticipate a need for the building, once vacated, but we haven’t fully evaluated possibilities yet and it could still be a few years down the road. The local planning committee will have to review options and make recommendation to the Board of Education for that decision.
One thing I can say is, once we begin the design phase for a new Grant’s Lick, we will will require community input. We recognize that GLE is a community school and want to keep it that way. Even though it’s early in the process, there have been lots of suggestions about the cupola on Grant’s Lick and other design elements. Yes, I’m sure we will figure out a way to keep the cupola in the design, one way or another! I think I’ve had six or seven people mention that to me already.
Finally, I just want to reiterate that the process of school site selection, purchase, design, funding, and construction is a long and laborious one. I plan to keep you up to speed on this like I did for the high school fieldhouse, tennis court and parking lot construction. And at some point, I will likely reach out for your help with contacting the legislature to make this a priority! Please stay tuned for updates.
David A. Rust, Superintendent